We’ve been back home since the 9th of June but this is the first week I can honestly say we’re over jet lag, but I also have hay fever so that probably isn’t going to help.
A little preliminary information. I’m 64 and have visited NYC A LOT I think I went there every year during the 80s and most of the 70’s and 90’s too. NYC has changed since 1995 (my last previous visit) and I must admit I don’t really like the changes. Everyone’s so nice <g>. There are tourists everywhere – all over the place. The park is safe (!) and so is the subway. You feel safe wherever you walk. Even my hotel receptionist was helpful. In fact all the hotel people were really nice and friendly – it made me shiver. Where’s the hard edged NY I grew to love over the years? Why were people making eye contact in the street? And where were the beggars?
Enough, my trip report.
MW (my wife) and I drove down to Heathrow without problem. We stayed one night in the Radisson and the evening meal was so expensive I phoned a friend back home to joke about it. Expensive? This was just the start.
Due to the 130,000 Frequent Flyer miles I’d collected we were flying out BA Business Class and so waited for our flight in the business class lounge where everything is free! I felt almost obliged to drink my self into an alcoholic stupor, but as I hate people like that I drank only five Colas.
The flight was luxurious. We had a great stewardess and a surprisingly poor meal. But as I’m 6 foot five and couldn’t touch the seat in front of me with my feet while completely prone I’m not complaining. Was it worth the £4000!!!! It would have cost me? Nope.
We arrived at about 5 pm on Thursday night and easily found a fixed rate yellow cab. (With a television in it?) ($50 I think plus tip) I always used to buy a TV guide on arrival but I reduced two young ladies to fits of giggles as I tried to explain what the publication looked like. The newsstand in the airport wasn’t selling it and I think it must have stopped publication around 53 AD.
We’d arrived in a heat wave with temperatures of 97 degrees predicted for noon the next day. This should have been a warning, but in our euphoria it wasn’t.
Check in was fast and friendly (eerie) and we quickly found our room on the 29th floor. The Hilton (on 6th and 54th) has the finest beds in which we’ve ever slept. We quickly decided that we would spend our entire holiday in our twin double beds having food sent up. The pillows were so sooooo good that I bought two on eBay on my return home. (And I haven’t mentioned the shower yet.)
Friday was the first morning and due to a booking error of mine we’d paid for breakfast in the hotel. (£40s!!!!! for two of us. Nothing is worth £40!!!!) I resolved to leave no tip! Then we got talking to the lady who took us to our table. I don’t remember how the subject came up but to start work at 6 am this lady gets out of bed at 3am every morning! THREE AM.! Every day. Next time you think of leaving a tip think of that. I tipped 20% every time from then on.
My toast was okay but the orange juice and coffee were only so so. (Not $30s worth anyway.)
From the third morning onwards we had breakfast at the Astro diner one block away for $15 each plus tip. Much more fun and lots of people to talk to.
Much was made on this site of my planning. Well I looked on it as research with approximate goals for each day. I stand by this decision. Its okay to say “go and do what takes your fancy” but I don’t think MW and I will be able to afford to go back and so it was important to me to make sure we saw everything we wanted to. Plus, hard work though it was, I enjoyed it. What I hadn’t reckoned on was that neither of us are 50 anymore. (Gee, I’m not even 60 anymore.)
So the first easy stroll up to Central Park South and then across to 5th Avenue and down was a bit of an effort. We were still tired and the temperature was in the high 80s with 40% humidity. We couldn’t see any coffee shops in the 50s on 5th Ave so we went back to rest on 6th in a Starbucks.
Where do they get their staff? McJob rejects? No smiles no welcome and slow service. In old NYC no smiles and no welcome would have been accompanied by fast service. Not in 2013 it seems.
By this time we were bushed and retreated to our beds to gather our strength. An hour later it was coming up to lunch time and so we decided to walk to Bryant Park. It didn’t look like a long walk but we arrive hot and tired. It’s a small park but with shaded seating and some places to eat. We settled on sandwiches and cokes and decided not to move again until evening, at which point our air hostess walked over to us and asked how we were! (Really good of BA to arrange this <g>) A lovely lady who shamed us into getting going again as she looked so cool and fit and active (and 30!)
By four o’clock we were back on those beds. On my bought for Roman cobbles shoes I felt fittish but MW with her first blister beginning was out of it. Two hours later I walked us to TOTR.
$53 for both of us and, well, it was okay. Full of tourists like us and a good view. But if you’ve been up the ESB and the Twin Towers and seen the view on postcards, well, its NYC. Nowhere else like it in the world. (“The rest of the world should be very grateful” as a cab drive had said to me in the 80’s.) Ho hum. One site ticked off.
Next to the Hard Rock Café we’d been to in 1990. Well its moved and it’s a zoo. No lines, herds of people, dark and dimly lit with the speakers so badly tuned that we could’tn hear anything. (Hey owners – it’s a ROCK café right?) Poor service $90 meal of indifferent quality. Big mistake.
Tired, still jet lagged and a little disappointed at the new NYC we were in bed (ahh those beds) and asleep by nine, Sopranos tour tomorrow – the holiday begins.